Planning is good. Planning can improve efficiency. I’m a big fan of planning and turning plans into processes that can help you work faster and get more done.
But it’s easy to get stuck in the planning phase and bogged down in false productivity.
‘Someday’ should be today
Noting down post ideas to write later when you can do them ‘justice’ or outlining a project that you’ll get to ‘someday’ isn’t helpful.
It feels like you’re working. It feels like you’re being productive with your time. But it’s just another way of sidestepping the hard work involved with content creation.
Unless you’re going to delegate or freelance these ideas out to somebody who WILL write them, what good are they?
What good are article ideas if they stay half-formed and hidden away on your computer? Can anybody read them? Comment on them? Will they drive traffic to your website or help build your brand?
There’s a simple answer to all of these questions. It’s not ‘yes’.
A reluctance to ‘ship’
The planning phase has its own gravitational pull and can keep you from even getting started on a project. You can plan too much; think you don’t know enough. This lack of self-belief will keep you searching for more advice because you want to know everything before you begin.
Why? Because you don’t want to make any mistakes. There’s a nagging fear that if you stop planning and/or researching, you’ll miss a vital piece of information that will help you be better at what you’re trying to do.
So you consume more information and take more notes rather than ‘doing’. Productivity takes a nose-dive.
As Seth Godin famously said: “One key element of a successful artist: ship. Get it out the door. Make things happen.”
Rarely is anything perfect.
Get your hands dirty
You can read all about learning to drive. But it won’t fully prepare you for getting behind the wheel of a car. You can watch YouTube videos about growing your own vegetables. But you’ll never master it until you get your hands dirty.
You know that thing you’ve been planning… Do it. Whether you succeed or fall short, it doesn’t ultimately matter. You’ll learn from your own experience and do it better next time.
Writing for Fast Company magazine, Anjali Mullany has an interesting observation about perfectionism, suggesting that it could be “a sign of something deeper – a lack of self-confidence in our abilities, or fear of how other people will receive our work?”
Is this you? There are times when it’s definitely been me.
Improve your productivity
Getting stuck in the planning phase is immensely frustrating. Don’t kid yourself. You know that you’re stuck in it, even if you might not want to admit it to yourself.
Knowing that you’re over-planning is the first step to dragging your creative arse out of the unproductive rut you’ve tumbled into and hauling it out.
Make the decision to stop planning. Draw that clichéd ‘line in the sand’ and start implementing your plans rather than perfecting them. Because a plan isn’t any use if it isn’t put into action. How will you know if it works? How will you know if you’re wasting your time?
Stop over-planning. Start over-delivering. Improve your productivity tenfold (and do it today).